By Krank Mills
The latest episode of Grease: You’re The One That I Want was an exercise in bad pants, nicknames and back stories. Yes, with the contestants narrowed down to twelve (Or are they?! [NO, THEY'RE NOT AND I'M TOTALLY FURIOUS!]) And two hours to fill, we learn a little bit about everyone and then give them nicknames that boil that entire life story into one totally non-succinct adjective. For most contestants, I found the nicknames the show gave them insufficient and decided to create my own. And did I mention it was TWO FREAKING HOURS LONG? I seriously might fall into a coma by the end of this. Zoom in on the stage, LIVE from Hollywood, it’s the, um, live show! The twelve potential Danny’s and Sandy’s are lined up across the stage in a-dorable matching outfits: Leather bomber jackets and jeans for the Danny’s, and shiny leggings and tops for the girls.
Actually, scratch that, the men look adorable, the women all look pregnant. Those shiny lycra leggings are doing almost none of the girls any favors. Also, each finalist has been given a color. This, coupled with the fact that the show will give them each a nickname labeling his or her personality just highlights what NBC thinks of the intelligence of their viewing audience. Based on the quality of product, they’re probably right. Except about me. And you. Maybe.
After the credits, we’ve got a group number of all the finalists singing “You’re the One That I Want.” It is entirely uninspiring since we JUST heard this song sung better by professionals during the credit sequence. Also, THOSE PANTS! I would cry if I were on this show and saw a tape of this and could see what I looked like broadcast to tens of hundreds of people across America. What was the costumer thinking? They could have hidden all those girls’ paunches with a nice poodle skirt, which really would have been a more suitable costume ANYWAYS since Sandy spends 96% of the show in a poodle skirt, and only changes who she is for the man she loves in the very last scene.
Basically, this performance looks like a high school production of Grease. For a minute I didn’t think Kathleen Marshall had staged this because the choreography was kind of bad. For example, all the staged fighting. Kathleen Marshall, you are no Jerome Robbins and this is certainly no West Side Story . There’s a little of the Kiss Me, Kate magic at one point, but mostly this opener is just a showcase of HORRIBLE PANTS ON GIRLS.
Since all the Danny’s and Sandy’s are getting nicknames tonight, I only thought it fair to include Billy Bush and Denise Van Outen. Billy Bush shall henceforth be known as Ryan Seacrest and Denise Van Outen shall be known as Cat Deeley. And it is so.
Ryan Seacrest goes down the checklist of any good talent reality show: Fans, Band, Panel of Judges. “Ta-da!” Says the brass section of said band.
“But! Pick the wrong Danny and Sandy and the Broadway show could go up in flames.” That actually sounds like fun. Thanks for the idea, Ryan Seacrest. Before he introduces us to the panel, Ryan Seacrest reminds us that the judges’ reputations are at stake. But really, any TV is good TV to a theater professional. Though really really, I think it would have been better for everyone involved to have done a spot on Law & Order instead.
Jim Jacobs apparently invented the hanging moon. That sounds dirty. Guest judge: Olivia Newton-John. That’s a major guest to be pulling out for the first live show. She should be on the finale. No, John Travolta should totally be on the finale, but that’s SOOOO not happening.
Back story! Derek Keeling, 26, West Virginia. He was a runner. But his senior year he got injured and so did musical theater to fill his time. He’s doing this for his dad and swears he won’t let us down. Too late. The best part of these back stories is that they make the contestants tell their hometown peeps they got on the show in front of the cameras. This show totally OWNS these nobodies.
Austin, 30, Texas. Also has abs out to HERE. You could poke your eye out on those! Aw he was a chubby kid. It caused him pain. But now he has overcome. He talks about how his professional experience should set him apart from the rest. Except he’s not the only one with real credits. – Juliana was a swing on the Thoroughly Modern Millie tour, and Jason was in Altar Boyz. No small potatoes, but you don’t hear them going on and on. Um, yet.
The songs they sing tonight are supposed to show the contestant’s inner-Danny or Sandy, and “say this is me, this is what I can do, I’m the one that you want!” sings Ryan Seacrest! That’s right, SINGS. You know Ryan Seacrest TOTALLY wants to be Danny, but settled for hosting when his job at Access Hollywood precluded him from auditioning. What? I’m giving the hosts back stories too.
Up first is Derek. The show calls him “Wholesome” Danny but I think he’s more like a “Wholesale” Danny, am I right, am I right? Down low – too slow! He’s singing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” He sings pretty well, but mostly just stands in one place and snaps. That might work fine here thanks to the magic of television, but he’d be BO-ring on stage. His big move is the double-fist-pump. Yeah, it looks about as attractive as it sounds.
Next is “Hot” Danny, Austin singing “Money Money.” Ryan Seacrest admits to giving him that nickname. OMG, proof that Ryan Seacrest is gay!! Am I going to get sued for saying that? Austin, I dub thee “Proud” Danny. Ok he sounds pretty awesome except in the falsetto, and he is SO FRICKEN INTO IT. When David Ian was giving that jock advice about being a rock star last week he should have brought Austin in to demonstrate. It’s because Austin is SO not a rock star that I find this performance especially swaying. Plus, he has a great Donna McKechnie moment on his way to the stairs. Bravo, Austin.
We turn to the judges for comments. And the last remaining hope that this show could be any good at all is dashed as all the judges only have nice things to say. Even the British guy is nice. What are you here for British man, if not to be brutal?! In other news, Olivia Newton-John has had a lot of work done on her face but none on her neck.
Next up it’s “Heidi Montag without the personality” Sandy, Allie Shultz. Allie is from Nashville, and skipped college to move to NYC straight out of high school to become an actress. Brave or stupid? Only time will tell. She’s singing “I Love Rock and Roll.” The pink jacket signals this is will be more like Britney Spears’ version rather than Joan Jett’s. Allie starts the song really low and I can barely tell she’s singing. She’s basically talking in rhythm. At one point she turns her ankle because she can’t walk in her kick-ass high-heeled boots and I thank the gods of television for live TV because there’s nothing I find funnier than people tripping.
“Seriously guys, she’s got a mullet” Sandy, Kate Rockwell is the next to perform. Kate was a big dork in high school, but gained confidence because of her voice. Yawn. She’s singing “All By Myself” and it’s TOTALLY AWESOME. She totally brings the house down with her 11 o’clock number. For a second I wish I wasn’t watching this later on my DVR so I could vote for her.
The judges loved both of them. Duh.
Next up, our surprise Danny and Sandy: cut contestants Matt Nolan and Ashley Anderson. WORST. SURPRISE. EVER. They’re back for a second chance. That’s nice, except every time these two were passed in the earlier, it was because they were given another chance by the panel. Ashley had, like, FOUR chances at her first audition. Another something we learn: Ashley Anderson is married, both her and her husband’s families live far away, so they really only have each other, and I pity that poor, poor man.
The show gives Ashley the nickname “Emotional” Sandy, though she’ll always be The Choker to me. Ryan Seacrest awesomely zings that he wanted to call Matt “Man-Tears” Danny, but that was vetoed in favor of “Second Chance” Danny. HaHA!
Matt sings “Pretty Woman” and it sounds like karaoke. Really bad karaoke. He also has no idea what to do with his hands. I boo, but the studio audience screams. Ashley sings “Looks Like We Made It” and is out of tune from the first note. This is what I sound like when I sing and I’m kind of tone-deaf. For ONCE the panel is honest and gives criticism. David Ian says that Ashley Anderson confuses him because she’s pretty, but also untalented. And pretty people are never untalented.
Next: “Can Mormons Be Gay?” Danny, Jason Celaya, and “Doody” Danny, Max Crumm. Singing “Faith,” Jason is pretty good, though I agree with Kathleen Marshall that his performance was a little contemporary ( i.e. Justin Timberlake instead of Elvis Presley). Hey, is that Kirsten Dunst in the audience?
Max starts his song, “Summer of ’69″ in front of a giant screen playing the Windows Media Player Visualizer. Awesome graphics department on this show. His performance is kind of awesome, but he’s still reading Doody to me not Danny. Also, I don’t know if skinny-jeans really project that Danny image the judges are obsessed with.
“Dull” Sandy Laura Osnes is currently playing Sandy in Minnesota, and is a total Jessica Smith look-alike. ‘Guna references all over this show! She just got engaged, but now that she’s moving to LA she doesn’t have a lot of time to plan a wedding. Sounds like fiancée is getting left in the cold Minnesotian dust! Kathleen Monteleone is married and a worship leader at her church. Heh, oops, she’s the one I called a hussy last week. I dub thee, “Hester Prynne” Sandy!
Laura sings “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and this is the first song all night that sounds like something that could be in Grease. She sings pretty well and gives some personality, but I’m distracted by her hideous outfit. Especially the white ankle boots.
Kathleen Monteleone is singing “She’s a Beautiful Girl” and I’m distracted by thoughts of how much more I like So You Think You Can Dance than this show. She’s fine, but I’m pretty sure every time she sang about him she meant Him. She does have a nice spriritual tip: “When wearing Sandy spandex, do not rely on prayer alone.” HA. Poor girls. Awful pants. Olivia Newton-John is cracking up over that comment. David Ian doesn’t think Laura could hold her own against the people they’ve been casting in the other roles. But they all loved Kathleen.
When we get back from commercials, Ryan Seacrest is sitting with Olivia Newton-John and Jim Jacobs with the prospective Sandy’s in the audience. The girls have a boring Q&A sesh with ONJ and the girls all listen really hard.
“The Chin” Danny, Kevin Greene is from Greece, NY. He’s a regular guy who’s doing this for his grandpa. “Pretty boy” Dannny, Chad Doreck started acting as a kid and has a band. He also likes his family. Shocker.
Kevin is singing “Walking in Memphis” and I get a Matthew Morrison vibe. Me likey. It’s all about the chin, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” is Chad’s song. It’s rather splendid, and he’s the only boy all night that hit the falsetto in his song. Jim Jacobs is ready to cast Chad, but the all judges loved both of them.
We’re finally at our last pair of the night. YAY. “Poor” Sandy, Juliana Hansen is a child of divorce. For most of her life her and her mother shared a bedroom with 6 other people. That is insane. Juliana says that coming from that background really fuels her ambition. “Dim Bulb” Sandy, Ashley Spencer started dancing at age four. She spent her last dime to get to the auditions in L.A. Sucker.
Juliana is singing “The First Cut is the Deepest” and it’s kind of funny to hear this pop song sung totally in the style of musical theater., but her performance is dull overall. Ashley Spencer sings “Does He Love Me” and reminds me of a thin Laura Bell Bundy. I can play the who-do-you-look-like game all day long. She plays the song all cutesy. The judges loved both of them, but would like to see some more personality from Juliana.
Just as I get excited that the show is over, it’s not. There’s another group number! I guess this is where we get to see their dancing ability? I wonder if we’re ever going to see them act. This time they’re performing “We Go Together” from Grease and HERE are the poodle skirts.
Just as in the earlier group number, Max, Ashley Spencer, Kevin and Juliana are in the front so it looks like Kathleen’s got her favorite dancers! Um, where is the hand jive? The hand movements she has them doing now are just as inane. By the time they get into the choreography that’s almost directly lifted from Kiss Me Kate (again!), I find their performances kind of infections. Alright, I’ve officially upgraded them from High School Drama Club to Regional Dinner Theater.
Ryan Seacrest asks the judges to name their favorite Danny and Sandy. David Ian goes first naming “ultimate showman” Derek, and good-looking Ashley Spencer. Kathleen likes “vivid and dynamic” Austin and Allie. Jim prefers “the master of blue-eyed soul” Chad and “something in the way she moves” Kate. ONJ declines to name a favorite. WTF ONJ? Can you not make one single decision?
Mystery guest next week: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Who was that a mystery to? That was known weeks ago. So what did you think of this episode? Why is ONJ so fricken nice? How staged was that last scene between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Jacobs? And how much or how little do you think ALW is going to steal from this show for his next reality show that will cast the Broadway revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?